Ablism: Idiotic Comments From Idiots

Posted by – May 2, 2009

This post is for Blogging Against Disablism Day, BADD, 2009.

Blogging Against Disablism Day, May 1st 2009

As I noted here, ablism (discrimination based on ability) is one of the dumber forms of injustice.

It’s dumb because it’s based on falsehoods. Just because someone is in a wheelchair, doesn’t mean they’re deaf or have mental retardation. That man in a wheelchair you just (loudly) talked down to? Maybe that was genius astrophysicist Stephen Hawking, or one of the most talented computer programmers in your city. FAIL. You never know the amazing things people with disabilities are capable of, especially now that rapidly-advancing computer technology and the internet is increasingly leveling the playing field. Despite our abilities and achievements, we are too often condescended to, and treated as outsiders and lesser beings. What a waste.

Personally, I was able to enter college at age 16. Still, I am too often assumed mentally impaired, not taken seriously, or, most angering for me, am openly disbelieved by some of the hospital staff. This is where stupidity crosses the line from annoying to dangerous. “The feeding tube is leaking!” “No it isn’t.” “Yes it is.” “No it isn’t.” And when they discover the bed is wet from the leaking tube and they have to change the pads, my prior warning doesn’t even warrant mention, much less an apology.

My girlfriend (the amazing, the wonderful, the beautiful) blogs here about hospital ablism, people not taking me seriously, and one incident where a hospital administrator told her that allowing her to stay late to help me would be pointless because she’s disabled. Paradoxically, those who deal with disability professionally (those in hospitals, nursing agencies, etc.) are often the rudest, most anti-disability people you’ll meet, much worse than random people off the street or at work or school.

And now for rank idiocy! sorry to digress into silly season here, but I can’t let Blogging Against Disablism Day go by without posting the footage of Glenn Beck recently mocking Obama’s aunt’s disability (warning: contains extreme, brain-boiling stupidity). He’s essentially an 8th grade class clown, and here he’s mocking Obama’s aunt’s limp, and, more broadly, making fun of anyone sympathizing with people with disabilities. Ha ha, only a weak-kneed bleeding heart wussy would hesitate to deport a disabled person to Africa where nothing’s accessible!

Glenn Beck is stupid.

Glenn Beck is stupid.

Glenn Beck is an idiot.

Society needs less ablist idiocy, not more.


  • I'm thinking he is more mean than stupid. A bully really. Never watch him, but if that's what he's doing, that looks like a bully to me.

  • Len

    While I agree with you regarding so called professionals in the medical and education field, I would be careful with phrases such as “ablism (discrimination based on ability).” There is nothing wrong with ability, yours, mine, or my neighbor's. The way this is written seems to divide the world into those with ability, and those without. My view is that each of us has strengths and weaknesses, things we do well and are unable to do at all. Dividing the world into us and them does not heal wounds, it widens them.

  • Mary Marshall Fowler

    You make some good points. I've noticed that a lot of people are really good at certain things and may be terrible at some others things. But, they may be good at hiding the things they're not good at. It would amaze me when I would meet someone who was attractive, skilled at many things, both intellectual and physical, and who is also a modest, nice, kind, considerate person.

    And, regarding segregation, I think the only thing which should be segregated is the laundry. <g>

  • Len, there is discrimination based on ability/disability, and describing it points it out–it doesn't create it. If you notice, Nick agrees with you: “Despite our abilities and achievements, we are too often condescended to, and treated as outsiders and lesser beings.” We experience discrimination every day and ignoring it doesn't diminish it–raising awareness about it and educating people does. The world has already been divided into two–we're trying to close that gap.

  • NTE

    Glenn Beck is the worst sort of bully – the kind that people listen to. (IDK why, but some people do). As always, prejudice (of any form) is about people making assumptions ,and i think you did a great job of showing this.

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